By Donna Westfall – December 16 2017 – What was once science fiction has now become reality.
In the 1960’s, scientist/inventor, John Cover developed a non-lethal weapon. It was based on a novel from his childhood, “Tom Swift and the Electric Rifle, (acronym = TSER)” Cover worked as an aerospace scientist and had been involved with NASA’s Apollo program. In the late 1960s, as images of protests and police violence saturated the nightly news, he thought a weapon that temporarily immobilized a person, at a distance, using electricity, might be the solution.
Initially, his non-lethal weapon used a small gunpowder charge to shoot wires with metal darts carrying 50,000 volts of electricity. This would cause a person’s muscles to tense up involuntarily.
He patented his weapon and in 1974 approached law enforcement, the military and the airlines. None were interested until 1979 and an incident that changed the course of history.
January 3, 1979, two Los Angeles Police Department officers (LAPD) responded to the home of Eulia May Love, a 39 year old African-American woman, because of a dispute over a gas bill. She allegedly threatened them with a knife. They shot and killed her.
Former LAPD Police Chief, Daryl Gate, stated that he wanted one of those things that Buck Rogers used to “zap’em, freeze’em, and stop’em.”
Cover was in the right place at the right time, and the rest is history. LAPD took the unit out into the streets to test it and found it to be very effective. They ordered several hundred.
Cover didn’t think TSER flowed right so he added an “A” and that begot TASER. The word “Taser” is, in fact, an acronym for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle. Also, instead of a gunpowder charge, they now use compressed gas.
Are there problems with Taser’s?
Yes. Stories of children, vulnerable adults and the elderly being “shocked” by stun guns that shot 50,000 volts through their bodies began to give Taser a bad name. Deaths resulted.
But, when Cover died in 2009, his wife related that she believed his invention saved the lives of a hundred thousand people.
At the December 12, 2017 Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Sheriff Apperson requested the purchase of Taser’s over a 5 year period for a grand total of $14,274.56. The vote was 5-0 to approve.